Toba, North Sumatra (ANTARA) - The 2023 Aquabike Jetski World Championship held for the first time in Indonesia on November 22-26, 2023, showed the country's recent development in the sports tourism sector.

Through this event, the government reaffirmed its agenda of sports tourism that is included in the Grand Design of National Sports (DBON) of 2021-2045.

Carrying the concept of sports tourism, the central and regional governments presented the massive jetski competition in four districts in North Sumatra Province, namely Karo, Dairi, Samosir, and Toba.

During the five-day event, tourists and spectators flocked to the coasts of Lake Toba to watch the competing riders.

According to Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno, the Aquabike Jetski World Championship in Lake Toba attracted almost 100 thousand people.

"This figure far exceeded the government's target of only around 14 thousand visitors," Uno stated after visiting the H2O F1 arena in Balige Port, Toba District, which was the venue of the event's last day competition.

Uno explained that several countries have begun intensifying their sports tourism sector, and Indonesia has no intentions of lagging behind.

Moreover, he said, Indonesia has natural and cultural wealth that can be arranged in a way to support world-class sports events.

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Potential of Lake Toba

Dairi District Head Eddy Keleng Ate Berutu affirmed that the implementation of the Aquabike Jetski World Championship event motivated his region to consistently hold sports tourism activities.

According to Berutu, Dairi District, apart from being able to hold aquatic sports events, such as the jetski race, can also organize attractive touristic activities supported by scenic geographical conditions.

Berutu remarked that the jetski race inspired Dairi to hold other tourism sports events, such as hiking, cycling, running, and rock climbing.

Berutu said he was grateful that Dairi could be one of the hosts of the Aquabike Jetski competition, and he considered that the event was an opportunity to showcase the region's uniqueness to tourists.

Dairi District was the venue for the race's endurance category. A total of 22 riders in the endurance category from the country and abroad competed at Tao Silalahi Beach.

The jetski race was considered to be a new sport that had successfully attracted spectators and tourists to come to Dairi.

Berutu explained that the district underwent a strict selection process before being chosen as one of the venues for the race event.

After the event concludes, the district will be evaluated and retested by the central committee to determine its feasibility in the following year.

Berutu said that the Aquabike event opened a new chapter for Dairi and showcased its ability to hold international-scale events, and he hoped that his region would still become a host showcasing consistent quality for the next five years.

Meanwhile, the Samosir District Government also made several efforts to attract profits from the tourism sector during the Aquabike event, where it optimized the use of funding, promotion, and the arrangement of the Pangururan Waterfront City.

In addition to technical and financial support, the Samosir District provided education to the communities living around the venues.

The education is provided to increase the awareness of locals in welcoming domestic and international tourists who came to watch the Aquabike race.

Thus, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Samosir had prepared to welcome tourists with traditional snacks, clothing, and the island's souvenirs.

Samosir is a large volcanic island in Lake Toba, which is the largest volcanic lake in the world.

It was hoped that by promoting the region's uniqueness, riders from overseas and their official teams could directly see the souvenirs and tourism products offered.

District Head of Samosir Vandiko Gultom stated that the Aquabike championship on Lake Toba was a free promotional platform for local business actors to interact with potential customers coming from abroad.

Gultom said his side has been focusing on the sports tourism concept that was applied in the Aquabike event. He explained that long before the central government introduced the concept of sports tourism, the district had applied the concept since a long time.

Jetskis, which were not popular in other Lake Toba coastal districts, were first used in Samosir as a tool to drive sports tourism through rental services or stunt performances.

Potential athletes from Aquabike

The concept of sports tourism does not only focus on making profits but also on growing the potential of athletes in the region.

Gultom expressed hope that there would be local emerging jetski athletes after the Aquabike event. He is keen that Samosir's athletes contribute to the country by crafting achievements at the international level.

He said that Samosir has huge potential to produce local jetski athletes, considering that the district is already keen to provide aquatic tourism services.

People living in proximity to Lake Toba, especially Samosir, are already familiar with jetskis. After Aquabike 2023, the district government encouraged jetski rental businesses to conduct training for those interested in becoming athletes.

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Translator: Roy B, Kenzu
Editor: Arie Novarina
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